Google has continued its recent spending splurge with the purchase of FeedBurner, the Chicago-based distributor of news feeds to web browsers

Thought to be in the region of $100m (£50m), the deal offers the web giant a chance to extend its huge online ad network into the realm of RSS and off-site consumption of content.

Announcing the acquisition via its corporate blog on Friday, product management VP Susan Wojcicki wrote:

“We’re excited to continue offering the exceptional tools of FeedBurner to content creators throughout the world, and our teams will work together to improve the experiences of feed users, advertisers, and publishers.”

Google is planning to use the deal to serve its contextual ads to feed users, thus extending the reach of its AdWords programme. Or will it be Adsense? This sits in a grey area between the two – Google owns the technology, the RSS platform, but the content underpinning it is third party. Anyone for Google Adfeeds?

FeedBurner claims it delivers around 750,000 ‘live feeds’ from approximately 30,000 publishers per day, and the firm already sells CPM ads alongside that content, at bargain basement rates.

Interestingly, the signs are that Google will also use Feedburner’s tracking technology to expand Google Analytics, allowing publishers to measure usage of content away from their sites and the web giant to gain access to even more data.

FeedBurner co-founder Dick Costolo said:

“By combining our market leading feed metrics with Google’s market leading site and marketing analytics, publishers now get a comprehensive, 360-degree view of their audience. This ‘total perspective’ has long been a goal of ours, and we think our combined analytics offering is going to provide publishers with previously undiscovered insights and opportunities.”

In a conference call with reporters, Wojcicki added: 

“The opportunity it fills for Google is we have not been as active in providing a monetisation option for feeds and that is what FeedBurner does. We want AdWords advertisers to have access to the feeds and publishers on FeedBurner to have access to other Google services. We think this will be a win with users, publishers and advertisers.”

And, of course, Google itself. Although the two companies didn’t provide financial details, the consensus seems to be that Google paid $100m for FeedBurner, which had raised $10m in VC funding since its launch in 2004.

It is also the latest in a string of recent buyouts by the web giant, including those of ad serving company Doubleclick, community photo site Panaramio, video conferencing software firm Marratech and security software provider Greenborder.